A Barn and Beryl
Our 3rd year at Demelza has been and gone and things seem to be progressing. At last our barn has been built, which means space for lambing should be easier and also we can have the horses back over the winter.
It takes a while to work out the pressure points, but last year, space was at a premium and lambing was a bit of a squeeze. Fortunately, they didn't all lamb at once, or we'd have really struggled, but this year, there will be a few more to lamb, so fingers crossed all goes a bit more smoothly. Joby is a pro at sheep farming now, so most of it will be left in his capable hands this year.
The field is too small to sustain two horses during the winter, even if one is a midget, so we've prepared a couple of stables in the barn too, so that they can come in during the winter and hopefully take a bit of pressure off the field and allow their feet to dry out. It really will be a multi-purpose barn, housing animals, machinery, straw and hay and should be a real asset to the smallholding.
This year we lost a few of our older hens, I don't normally name our hens, but I did have a favourite - Beryl. She came with us from Woodley and was a fantastic layer, laying most of the year when the others went on strike, but sadly this was her last year in her happy home. To make up for the shortfall in eggs this year, we got some more Beryls from a farm that was getting rid of its older stock. The six girls have settled in nicely, have a reprieve from an early demise and I now have a few more eggs during the winter and can keep supply going to our loyal customers. They are a lovely temperament too following me around the enclosure, they are curious about everything I do and don't mind being picked up and pampered every now and then. Rocky the Rooster is pretty pleased to meet a few more ladies too!
I can't deny, it's still a challenge to be without Stuart. I often think about how things would be here if he was around to enjoy it. I have no doubt we would be a lot further ahead, but I hope we've made him proud. I miss sharing the excitement of the smallholding, the plans for its produce and the shared sense of achievement when things finally start to come together. It's been a steep learning curve and I've enjoyed the challenge, but I still feel like I'm sorting out problems from the move and that has been pricey. We've had a new conservatory roof which was leaking in several places and we had a leak in the apartment which has been sorted, but with scaffolding involved, it wasn't cheap!
There seems to have been a constant stream of tradesmen coming and going, but on the plus side, I've now found myself some reliable people who turn up when they say they will and get the work done, apart from my gardener, but he is being partly replaced by a robot (another blog in the making). This on top of growing the PR business and starting to refresh the holiday let, it's been a pretty busy year, but it's starting to bear fruit. The PR business is growing and we now have more than 67 reviews and a 5 star rating on Airbnb. I actually made a small profit last year (the first full year of re-building our lives), so am starting to feel like it is possible to forge forward and provide financially for everyone too. There are so many secondary implications to losing a partner that it takes years to rebuild some kind of life and new future, but we are doing it. I now feel able to plan a little more long term, day-to-day has extended to month-by-month and now year-by-year. The kids are becoming more independent, as am I.
So, next stop is lambing and the annual cycle begins again. It's a little less daunting each year, but there will still be no end of things to learn, mistakes to be made and all the weather that Cornwall can throw at us, usually in one day!